Open Geo-Spatial Data for Development (KE0020)
Action Plan: Kenya Action Plan 2018-2020
Action Plan Cycle: 2018
Lead Institution: Kenya Space Agency (KSA), ICT Authority (ICTA)
Support Institution(s): Other actors involved - government Office of the Deputy President, County Government of Vihiga Other actors involved - CSOs, private sector, working groups, Multilaterals etc Development Initiatives (DI), Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPFK), International Budget Partnership (IBP), Strathmore University, Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), , East Africa Institute at the Aga Khan, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), ESRI, Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Digital Earth Africa (DEA
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Automated Decision-Making, Digital Governance, E-Government, Environment and Climate, Health, Land Rights & Spatial Planning, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Water and Sanitation
Commitment 3: Open Geo-Spatial Data for
We will lower the barrier and increase access to geospatial data to support Health,
Disaster Management, Food and Nutrition Security.
Promote transparent and accountable use of Earth Observations and geo-spatial
information to enable academia, citizens, innovators and other data communities
harness its capability for use in the areas of health, agriculture, water, land-use planning
disaster management, environmental conservation and climate change.
Analysis ready Earth Observations Data and information are currently not available or
accessible to data communities such as farmers, health workers, Arid first responders in
disaster. Such information is often available to the scientific communities or behind a
The initiative will help provide free access to analysis ready data in open standards,
including publishing and sharing algorithms for re-use, through the first ever Africa Open
Data Cube (ARDC) and other Scale Geo-spatial technologies and platforms. This will
enable innovators leverage on Earth Observations to create products that are more
context specific to cater for service gaps to farmers, policy makers, health workers in aid
of every day decision making and action.
Lead implementing Organization
Kenya Space Agency (KSA), ICT Authority (ICTA)
Major Andrew Otieno Nyawade
Kenya Space Agency (KSA) at Ministry of Defence
September 2018 to May 2020
Access to information, Public accountability, Use of Technology
Page 22 of 30
New or ongoing commitment
Other actors involved - government
Office of the Deputy President, County Government of Vihiga
Other actors involved - CSOs, private sector, working groups, Multilaterals etc
Development Initiatives (DI), Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPFK), International
Budget Partnership (IBP), Strathmore University, Local Development Research Institute
(LDRI), , East Africa Institute at the Aga Khan, Global Partnership for Sustainable
Development Data (GPSDD), ESRI, Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Digital Earth
Verifiable and measurable milestones to
fulfil the commitment
Start date End date
10. Establish and sustain an appropriate
public-private cooperation platform on
Earth Observations and Geo-Spatial
11. Develop draft open geo-spatial data
guidelines and standards to ensure
interoperability and accessibility
12. Improve access to open geospatial data
through the Africa Data Cube by working
with researchers, innovators, data
scientists to develop tools and share their
tools, knowledge and technology through
an open platform.
13. Include geographical information of capital
projects in County budgets.
14. Co-create targeted open geo-spatial/earth
observations applications to address the
Big 4 policy priorities through open calls
IRM Midterm Status Summary
3. Open Geo –Spatial Data for Development
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“We will lower the barrier and increase access to geospatial data to support Health, Disaster Management, Food and Nutrition Security”
Promote transparent and accountable use of Earth Observations and geo-spatial information to enable academia, citizens, innovators and other data communities harness its capability for use in the areas of health, agriculture, water, land-use planning disaster management, environmental conservation and climate change.
- Establish and sustain an appropriate public-private cooperation platform on Earth Observations and Geo-Spatial Information.
- Develop draft open geo-spatial data guidelines and standards to ensure interoperability and accessibility.
- Improve access to open geospatial data through the Africa Data Cube by working with researchers, innovators, data scientists to develop tools and share their tools, knowledge and technology through an open platform.
- Include geographical information of capital projects in County budgets.
- Co-create targeted open geo-spatial/earth observations applications to address the Big 4 policy priorities through open calls and challenges.
Start Date: September 2018
End Date: August 2020
Editorial note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text see: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/KENYA_Action-Plan_2018-2020_0.pdf
OGP Value Relevance (as written)
Did It Open Government?
Not specific enough to be verifiable
Specific enough to be verifiable
Access to Information
Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability
Did Not Change
Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Context and Objectives
The production and use of geospatial data in the domains of health, food security and disaster management has greatly progressed over the years, with its value for decision making increasingly appreciated.      Policy development and implementation has suffered as a result of not exploiting these technologies.  Various steps have been taken to better integrate GIS data into development planning include the passing of legislation which requires that county governments develop ten year spatial plans that are to be integrated into County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).    Kenya’s OGP commitments continue to extend these efforts, building on NAP II which had specifically aimed at opening up forestry and climate change datasets and geospatial information. NAP III in turn targets four additional areas namely: food and nutrition security, disaster management and health.
Kenya, through the Office of the Deputy President, is currently a champion of the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. Various initiatives are therefore being undertaken in this regard, including participating in the Africa Regional Data Cube (ARDC). The ARDC allows for the capturing of high resolution imagery, remote processing and the production of analysis-ready outputs that lead to greater ease in the use of earth observation data. The ADRC was launched in Kenya in May 2018 and also adopted by four other African countries namely Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Senegal.  Various limitations of the cube were identified such as limitations to the number of users able to access the cube in a specific instance. A more robust system, Digital Earth Africa (DEA),  was therefore adopted that could handle even higher resolution imagery, house a wider array of data or datasets, and offer more flexibility and options for replicability.  DEA can be considered as the scaling up of the ARDC to the entire continent. Once ARDC and DEA are fully operational, the Kenya Space Agency will become a clearing house for geospatial data, directing it as necessary to other government agencies and other parties. This would lead to greater efficiencies especially in regard to coordination and avoiding the duplication of efforts. 
According to the current NAP, geospatial information is neither available nor accessible to specific data communities such as farmers, health workers and first responders.  The commitment therefore aims to enhance data accessibility in order to enable citizens to “harness its capability for use” in decision making and in closing ‘service gaps’.  In this regard, the working group on geospatial data is developing five use cases or case studies looking at the application of spatial technology to address challenges in agriculture, water quality and extent, urbanisation, forest cover and land degradation. The development of these cases studies are primarily led by government agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development and Public works; or the National Land Commission. Other agencies involved include the Council of Governors (CoG), UN Habitat; Food and Agriculture Organization and some private sector organisations. Local communities have been cast as consumers of these products. 
The commitment’s milestones are all verifiable. However, their specificity could be improved by mentioning the type of spatial dimensions that will be considered for each domain under consideration. The nature of the “public-private” cooperation could also be further clarified. Milestone eleven could also go further to clarify whether there will be the development of new standards or whether Kenya will adopt standards developed by International Standards Development Organizations for Geospatial Information such as the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).  The construction of milestone thirteen could also improve as it currently does not specify whether the information on capital projects will relate to all thematic areas mentioned (i.e. food, health and disaster management) or whether the scope will be narrower. How this will translate into utilization by local actors is also not explicated.
The commitment as framed reflects the OGP values of “access to information” and “using technology and innovation for openness and accountability”. The Africa Regional Data Cube as part of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Data will expand access to geospatial data on the domains outlined in Kenya’s Big 4 agenda and beyond. Milestone 12 and 13 also provide the government and other actors with the opportunity to engage in proactive disclosure of data. Importantly, the utilization of these platforms and data in question will be further enhanced through the open call and challenges laid out in milestone fourteen. In regard to “using technology and innovation for openness and accountability”, there are various advantages to developing open geo-spatial data guidelines: For instance the open nature of these data guidelines means that they are versatile and can be regularly updated in a cost effective manner, reduce or spread risk and are able to respond and adapt to emerging issues that prevail.  This approach would allow the government’s interoperability and accessibility challenges to be addressed in an open source community which is highly transparent among other advantages.
It is therefore envisioned that the commitment could have “minor” impact given its framing in the current NAP. There are some indications that the commitment presents further opportunities for collaboration and/or co-creation as outlined in milestones twelve and fourteen. Additionally, the very nature of platforms commonly used within this work such as GitHub or the ARDC itself, forces community members to interact, to share their knowledge and innovations, and allows for borrowing and replicability of the same elsewhere. By all indications, the community that is now emerging from the commitment is a vibrant and thriving one.  However, more would be required in order to ensure utilization of this data by the target groups and communities outlined in the NAP. For instance, access to the cube is described as free, though it is not clear what hidden costs or barriers to access may be incurred in trying to access the cube in our context. As it is, an individual requiring access must be given the credentials to access the cube from an officer either with the Kenya Space Agency or the Geospatial and Data Division after going through a basic vetting process. 
In addition to this, the commitment does not outline how the data will be shared with policy and professional communities and citizens outside the technical scope of the initiative. Sentiments shared at a civil society meeting revealed that civil society actors did not greatly understand the commitment and were unable to articulate its value or potential.  One participant remarked that discussions around the commitment focused mainly on hardware in terms of the development of GIS infrastructure when the discussion needs to move towards the utility.  The milestones therefore appear to be constructive within specialised spaces rather than outlining steps that will be undertaken to ensure that citizens can use the data to participate in decision making. One may argue that the tools and knowledge products or outputs arising from milestones twelve and fourteen could be packaged for consumption by these communities. However, this is not assured and could have the potential to further alienate the communities in question if they are not enabled or empowered to consume and use what is made available. Work is already being undertaken in this regard by the Kenya Space Agency who has begun training mainly data communities in how to utilise the ARDC. These efforts should be incorporated in the NAPs design as they are an essential component in regard to utilisation of these platforms.
Secondly, while access to geospatial data may increase, the commitments impact is difficult to ascertain given that the NAP does not provide an adequate baseline i.e. the NAP neither outlines the breadth and volume of available data or its current relevance to the domains or sectors in question.
Thirdly, various reasons for limited access and uptake of GIS information in various jurisdictions have been documented including institutional barriers such as organizational culture; significant red tape when it comes to accessing government GIS data; limited technical capacity; or limitations of the data infrastructure (hardware and software) within government, as has been identified in many of Kenya’s counties.   Geospatial data sets have also been described as lacking in volume, scope or diversity. For instance, one study indicates that universal coverage in Kenya is not the norm, and data exists mostly in the form of land parcel information and development maps that are mainly developed for urban areas. Additionally, most of these maps exist in hardcopy and not digital GIS format.  While milestones ten and thirteen aim to address some of these bottlenecks, challenges remain and have significant implications for the accomplishment of the goal as outlined. Lastly, while efforts to promote accountability, through the development of open geospatial data guidelines and standards, are commendable, the absence of a regulatory framework means that there may be no clear requirement for government to routinely produce or provide accessibility to this data according to the developed data standards.
The commitment could be potentially impactful in the long run if it is able to bridge the gap between innovation and use by policy makers and local communities in order to address current service gaps and aid every day decision making. To this end, subsequent action plans should aim to address this gap as well as develop a policy framework and plan for sustainability.  The IRM researcher recommends that future commitments in this area consider:
- Building the capacity of farmers, health workers and first responders, bureaucrats and civil society to understand and consume geospatial data. 
- Developing a plan and strategy for reaching out to professional, policy and local communities that reside outside the technical scope of the initiative. This could include fora in which various actors discuss the confluence between GIS, Earth Observation data and a sector specific issue.
- Linking user cases or cases studies to public participation processes.
- Establish a regulatory framework for the production and use of geospatial data to address concerns around data sharing and data security as regards geospatial information. These would need to be harmonized with the Draft Spatial Planning Guidelines for Kenya (2017), Data Protection Bill (2018), Computer and Cyber Crime Act (2018) and Access to Information Act (2016). A national geospatial policy framework is also required to outline the governance structure and coordinating mechanisms around the spatial data initiative. 
Create public beneficial ownership register
KE0024, 2020, Access to Information
Implement e-government system adopting Open Contracting Data Standard
KE0025, 2020, Access to Information
Publish open data to spur innovation in public service delivery and development
KE0026, 2020, Access to Information
Increase efforts to promote public participation in the legislative process
KE0027, 2020, Civic Space
Apply County Peer Review Mechanism to improve public service delivery
KE0028, 2020, E-Government
Implement Access to Information Act
KE0029, 2020, Access to Information
Implement legislation to increase access to justice
KE0030, 2020, Access to Justice
Build institutional support of OGP
KE0031, 2020, Capacity Building
KE0018, 2018, Access to Information
KE0019, 2018, Access to Information
Open Geo-Spatial Data for Development
KE0020, 2018, Access to Information
KE0021, 2018, Capacity Building
KE0022, 2018, Capacity Building
Open Government Resiliency
KE0023, 2018, Capacity Building
More Transparent and Participatory Development of Climate Polices at the National and Subnational Level
KE0010, 2016, Access to Information
Enhancing Preventive and Punitive Mechanisms in the Fight Against Corruption and Unethical Practices
KE0011, 2016, Anti-Corruption
Enhance Transparency in the Legislative Process
KE0012, 2016, E-Government
Publish Oil and Gas Contracts
KE0013, 2016, Anti-Corruption
Ensure Greater Transparency Around Bids and Contracts
KE0014, 2016, Anti-Corruption
Create Transparent Public Procurement Process, Public Oversight of Expenditure and Ensure Value-For-Money Towards Citizen Priorities
KE0015, 2016, Access to Information
Improving Access to Government Budget Information and Creating Wider and More Inclusive Structures for Public Participation
KE0016, 2016, E-Government
Enhance Right to Information
KE0017, 2016, Access to Information
Improving Transparency in Electoral Processes: 1.A. Definition of Electoral Boundaries and Name.
KE0001, 2012, Media & Telecommunications
Improving Transparency in Electoral Processes: 2.B. Voting Information Online
KE0002, 2012, Access to Information
Promoting Public Participation: 1.B. End-To-End Service Delivery Portal
KE0003, 2012, E-Government
Promoting Public Participation: 1.D. Public Complaints Portal
KE0004, 2012, E-Government
Promoting Public Participation: 2.C. Kenya Action Plan Online
KE0005, 2012, Public Participation
Promoting Public Participation: 1.C. Open Data Portal
KE0006, 2012, Access to Information
Improving Transparency in the Judiciary: 2.A. Public Vetting of Judges and Case Allocation System
KE0007, 2012, E-Government
Open Budgets: 3.a. Improve Kenya's OBI Index
KE0008, 2012, Fiscal Openness
Open Budgets: 3.B. Increase Public Participation in Budgetary Processes
KE0009, 2012, Access to Information